Importance of Teaching Students How to Use Online Tools

I don’t like to admit this, but, as we know, we learn from our mistakes. Let’s just say I wasn’t too successful with my first student online. I thought it was going to be so easy...


In fact, I failed so terribly that my parents had to hire a second nanny to sit with this little five-year-old just so we could get 15 minutes of learning for an hour lesson. 😱 So, if you have a parent sitting next to your student, I understand. Last week, I shared pros and cons of the devices students use. This week, I’m going to share my number one tip for getting students independent depending on what device they are using. This is the key to not having an experience like I had. 😉


Online Tools for Learning

We love to use them and so do the students when online. We also hate to hear “Mom, Dad, I lost the tools!” The parents then have to come in and out of your lesson like a revolving door. The tools elevate engagement giving you the ability to model parts of a lesson that students benefit from. More importantly, when the students are using the tools, they are able to participate in key parts of the lesson like marking up syllable types, sentence scooping, or playing games. Speaking of games 😉, here's a FREE Fall game, football themed, for you to use with your students. Tag me on Instagram and show me how you use yours. I'd love to see and share with the community.


Did you know that laptops and iPads have different ways of getting the tools? I didn’t know that when I started. 🤷🏻‍♀️ One thing we have to remember is that we have to be able to explain set up elements like finding the tools and breaking it down for the student.


Accessing Online Tools for Laptops and iPads


Here are some tips on how to help students establish independence and be able to get tools independently while getting mom and dad out of the lesson. 👏


Online Tools If Students Have a Laptop


Zoom names the tools annotation tools, but we can make it a lot easier by calling them marking up tools.


How do we get them to find the tools?

Here’s a step-by-step way that works for my students, and I hope it works for you too!

As their teacher/ tutor, I’m going to visually model the whole way.


  • Viewing my screen options above 👆. Look for options.

  • The menu comes down. It’s a set of choices just like a menu from a restaurant.

  • I make a box with the word an in it like you see below👇. Then I tell my students, "Look for the word an. We know the word an. This is the glued sound an."

  • Click on it. Those are your marking up tools. They allow us to write on the screen.




Students Who Have an iPad



  • Press the screen

  • Wait for the pen to appear

  • They will have marking-up tools as long as you're sharing the screen. Shown above👆, the marker is in the lower, left corner.


I hope this helps you get your students independent. If you need more tips and strategies, follow me on Instagram. Or, for help with your specific questions on tutoring reading and spelling students, sign up for a coaching call or join a live session!

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